It was not “legitimate under international law”: The German government opposes Turkey’s invasion of Syria

The Turkish invasion into Syria’s Kurdish region lacked “legitimacy under international law,” according to the German government. Besides, Germany’s development ministry wants to help in northern Syria because of COVID-19.

The government in Berlin has made unusually specific statements on Turkey’s Syria policy and criticised the invasion of the Kurdish region there, calling it illegitimate.

In a response to a parliamentary inquiry by the left submitted to Der Tagesspiegel, the German state secretary in the federal development ministry, Maria Flachsbarth (CDU), wrote: “From the perspective of the German government, the Turkish argumentation is not entirely free of doubt.”

With regard to the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-Eastern Syria known as ‘Operation Peace Spring’, the German government has stated that it cannot see any reasons that would legitimise the operation under international law.

The Turkish government had invoked its right of self-defence for its invasions – not only for Operation Peace Spring – as the sister part of banned Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK) ruled in Syria’s Kurdish autonomous zone.

On top of that, the German government wants to donate €1 million to support “several humanitarian NGOs working in the health sector” to better deal with COVID-19 measures in the area, which is also called Rojava by the Kurds, Flachsbarth wrote.

The Turkish air force recently attacked Kurdish camps in Syria and Iraq. According to various sources, Yezidi activists died in Schingal and representatives of the opposition Syrian Democratic Council near Kobane, where Kurds had stopped the “Islamic State” (IS) for the first time in 2014.

“The fact that the federal government has, for the first time, officially announced that it does not recognise any reasons which legitimise Turkey’s attacks against the democratic self-administration in North-East Syria under international law is to be welcomed,” leftist Bundestag MP Evrim Sommer (Die Linke) told Der Tagesspiegel.

“This is a diplomatically packaged but resounding slap in the face for the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” she said.

However, the German government takes a different view of the situation in Idlib, the western Syrian stronghold of remaining insurgents.

“With regard to the Turkish military presence in the province of Idlib, Turkey bases its presence on an agreement it reached with the Russian Federation on Idlib in Sochi on 17 September 2018, to which Syria has agreed,” it says.

According to the German government, the Turkish army “has deployed a total of up to 10,000 soldiers in Idlib province”, meaning they are stationed there.

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